REVIEW: ‘Berserker Unbound,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Berserker Unbound Volume 1

Berserker Unbound Volume 1 is published by Dark Horse Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Jeff Lemire, artist Mike Deodato Jr., colorist Frank Martin, and letterer Steve Wands. Berserker Unbound Volume 1 begins with a lone warrior traveling a desolate land. This warrior is the titular Berserker. In the distance he sees smoke on the horizon coming from his village. He hurries toward it, worried about the safety of his wife and daughter. Sadly, he is too late as he finds their corpses among the carnage and burned buildings. He has little time to mourn as the raiders emerge from the smoke and he finds himself in a fight for survival.

The battle is won, but the Berserker is wounded in the process. With more enemies approaching he flees to a cave where strange runes are carved into the walls. Before he has time to rest, the magic of the runes spirits him away to another realm. He is awakened by Joe, a homeless man in the middle of a wooded area. Now the Berserker must find a way back to his homeland to exact revenge on those who took everything from him.

Berserker Unbound Volume 1

The script from Lemire is a mixed bag. The primary reason for this is the language barrier between Joe and Berserker. The inability of the two main characters of the story to communicate causes a lot of dead air. Despite the fact that both of them have important things to say to each other, the fact that neither understands makes the dialogue feel somewhat wasted. But that’s also what makes the bond the two forge even more profound. There is a moment toward the end of this volume where the two finally make meaningful communication. This moment is beautiful and leads to some excellent character moments.

The art, on the other hand, is far from mixed. Deodato Jr’s work is beautiful. There is even beauty to the violence. The characters are wonderfully expressive and whenever a two-page spread is presented it is always glorious. Likewise are the beautiful colors. The contrast between Berserker’s world and it’s muted colors and the woods of the new world is brilliant. But the first real standout page from artist and colorist comes when Berserker is pulled into our world. The unnatural strangeness of the magic paired with the greens and reds gives it an ethereal beauty. Wands’ lettering helps to illustrate the clash of fantasy. Though the differences between Joe and Berserker’s speech bubbles could be made more pronounced.

I enjoyed Berserker Unbound Volume 1 despite having some gripes with the story. It’s full of tropes and the plot stalls a little near the beginning when it needs to really take-off. But in spite of that, it presented the first time that the “warrior loses family and seeks revenge” trope really struck a chord with me. This isn’t terribly shocking as I’ve sung the praises of Lemire’s work before. If you like Conan the Barbarian, or just fantasy in general then I’d recommend this for you.

Berserker Unbound Volume 1 is now available wherever comics are sold.

Berserker Unbound Trade Paperback
3.5

TL:DR

I enjoyed Berserker Unbound Volume 1 despite having some gripes with the story. It’s full of tropes and the plot stalls a little near the beginning when it needs to really take-off. But in spite of that, it presented the first time that the “warrior loses family and seeks revenge” trope really struck a chord with me.